Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone

As an avid backpacker, I love traveling on the cheap. When I have to choose between staying in hostel and hotel I’d usually stick to a hostel (even if I can pay for a hotel). Finding best airfare deals, exploring local markets and pushing my mental boundaries have long been my best friends. Being a traveler means you never miss an opportunity to learn something new. This is why breaking out of your comfort zone from time to time is an effective tool for exploring the world. You can expect to meet people and experience cultures that are drastically different than in your country.


Breaking out of your comfort zone


Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone


Several years ago I decided to set off for Sri Lanka. My budget wasn’t big, so it was supposed to be a no-frills trip. I called my friend to ask if he could join me, he agreed and we started planning.


We were about to go through an ordinary travel planning process – buying plane tickets, booking accommodation, packing backpacks – nothing out of the ordinary. We have set the departure date and picked the accommodation, so I proceeded with the rest part of the process. After providing the necessary information for the booking engine, it was only a matter of time before the e-tickets appear in my inbox.


However, after receiving a message and opening it I was a bit shocked. The tickets came with the wrong date. Apparently, I made a typo when inputting data late at night. As a result, we ended up with tickets that were to bring us to Bandaranaike International Airport a day earlier. And what is even more unpleasant at night. Those tickets were non-refundable, so we decided to go anyway to avoid paying fees and break out of our comfort zone.


As we landed we in Sri Lanka we were happy to feel that gentle breeze and enjoy lovely September weather. Taxi drivers were trying to find their customers, while tuk-tuk drivers were willing to bring down a price. Wattala – our destination – was around 22 kilometers (14 miles) away, it was 1 AM and we were eager to finally get some sleep.


After making up a decision of going with tuk-tuk we were suddenly approached by a teenage boy. He asked us if we were going to Wattala. So after standing irresolute for a couple of seconds offered to give us a lift. But we were expected to pay for gas. Still wondering what he was up to, we approached the old pickup truck with an open cargo area full of bales of straw, rusty pipes and building materials.


Kid in Sri Lanka


After recovering from shock we decided to go and very soon we found ourselves in the back of a pickup rushing along the highway. It turned out that bales of straw, rusty pipes and building materials were supposed to be used in a new house, which they bought near our accommodation.


Breaking out of your comfort zone in Sri Lanka during the inter-monsoon period can be very pleasant. Not only the region has a lower chance of rain but you get an opportunity explore all these hidden gems in the inner parts of the island. On one of the first days of our stay, we rented a bike to do just that.


Riding a bike on the island is quite an experience. Especially if you have never done it before. Since most roads in Sri Lanka are quiet, with light traffic, it doesn’t take much skill to ride it. At the same time, it is a great tool for stepping out of your comfort zone.


Wall painting


It turned out that my friend has a different type of travel personality. I’m more into constant exploring, while he is more of a beach junkie. Because of the fact that Sri Lanka has so much to offer, it really doesn’t matter what activities you’re into. In fact, I love almost all activities available in Sri Lanka. But there is never enough time to do and try everything.


On the next day, we were sitting on the steps of our modest dwelling and planning our trip to Pettah market in Colombo. We were laughing and discussing the way we traveled from the airport. Suddenly, the same teenage boy approached us and offered a good discount on the goods his uncle was selling in the Pettah market.


Colombo street


It was another confusing situation, but again we decided to give this generous gesture a try. Sometimes life has a way of surprising you! It turned out that the teenage boy and his dad who gave us a lift just two days earlier stuck near the airport without a drop of gas. By asking us to go with them they were only trying to reach their home. They felt embarrassed about telling the truth that night, that is why they wanted to return the favor. Of course, we gladly took advantage of the offered discount.


If you’re going to Colombo consider paying Pettah market a visit. I can hardly name more eye-opening experience.


Situated around 10 kilometers from Wattala, the Pettah Market is, perhaps, one of the best spots to break out of your comfort zone. This expansive market is definitely very popular amongst the locals and provides a chance of honing your haggling skills.


Pettah Market


When we arrived the market was filled with locals selling virtually everything from street food to suitcases. The most exhausting part about visiting Pettah is how complicated navigating around the market can be. Exploring a winding maze of interconnected streets can drain you physically, so it would be wise to get appropriate footwear before you go. It took us twenty minutes to find the compartment. While I wasn’t spoiled for choice, I still enjoyed this improvised shopping experience.


Shopping there can actually be cheaper than anywhere else in Colombo. Just make sure to haggle. I haggled every time I found decent goods and saved a significant amount of money.


Even if you are not a travel junkie frantically trying to save money, a market is a right place for engaging with locals. Markets are usually overcrowded, full of different smells, cultures, and shops. Some vendors aren’t trustworthy and can be difficult to interact with. Some others may sell items that are totally worth tolerating the inconvenience.


Street vendors


Definitely, no one should venture into such places without decent preparation. You should exactly know what to expect since we’re all different. I found Pettah neighborhood to be safe for travelers, however, due to crowds, you should beware of pickpockets and scams. While breaking out of your comfort zone is an integral part of traveling, you’ll notice that it can be very rewarding. What is the benefit? You become a more open-minded person, easily accept changes and learn from it.


Some people consider breaking out of their comfort zone something that requires extreme. I’m no extreme. I’m more into exploring foreign cultures and the ways how people live on the other side of the globe. Overcoming your travel fears is one of the ways of breaking out of your comfort zone, believe it or not.





  • Nice read! Sri Lanka sounds marvelous and it’s high on my list!

    2018-02-02 at 10:40 am
  • Great story and awesome tips! Those moments of spontaneity are my favorite part of travel. You never know where those strange forks in the road will take you and that’s what makes it so much fun. Interesting twist that the boy and his father were stranded and you were helping them out by buying gas and taking a ride from them. Thanks for sharing!

    2018-02-02 at 4:49 pm
  • It sure was an adventure trip. I love adventure trips and exploring places. This story has motivated me to go on my next adventure trip.

    2018-02-03 at 11:08 am
  • Traveling is something that I really want to do. I need to learn how to break out of my comfort zone. I like adventures so I guess Sri Lanka would be great to go to.

    2018-02-03 at 12:17 pm
  • I have struggled with this at most times, but do love that you have put a spin on this with exposing us to this culture.

    2018-02-03 at 12:22 pm
  • Wow! The post is so amazingly written, I could feel your excitement. Nothing can be better than travelling to escape from stressful daily life for a few days.

    2018-02-03 at 1:23 pm
  • I’m considering inter-railing on my own at the end of the year & that will be me REALLY breaking out of my comfort zone. Thanks for sharing, great read!

    2018-02-03 at 2:39 pm
  • Very inspirational post.. like it

    2018-02-03 at 3:12 pm
  • What a great story! I’m glad you enjoyed your stay in Sri Lanka – I’d love to visit someday! It’s always hard to push yourself out of your comfort zone at first but it’s almost always worth it 🙂

    2018-02-03 at 6:04 pm
  • That’s a great post. I’m a big traveller however I have never done backpacking. I don’t know if I’d love it or hate it to be honest. I am really not interested in spending 10 days by a swimming pool in an all-inclusive hotel however I like a minimum of comfort so I don’t know how I would feel about backpacking. I should try really!


    2018-02-04 at 12:20 pm
  • Great one 🙂

    2018-02-04 at 5:16 pm
  • Great tips, I needed this.

    2018-02-04 at 7:34 pm
  • I love this piece (as I do all your other posts). It’s full of excitement and suspense. The bike ride sounded exciting too. I would have loved to see you in the market with your haggling skills. Funny. I love this kind of travel that is not too ‘fine’, if you know what I mean.

    2018-02-05 at 7:09 pm
  • Its always good to push urself out of ur comfort zone. You grow more as a person

    2018-02-06 at 4:31 pm
  • Very inspiring post, makes me want to expand my horizons.

    2018-02-20 at 3:18 pm
  • Going out of our comfort zones can change us completely and we can have new unforgettable experiences. You obviously had a lifetime adventure in Sri Lanka!

    2018-02-22 at 12:44 pm
  • Motivating post. Sri lanka is really a beautiful country. We really to get out of our fears and take bold steps to achieve the impossible…

    2018-03-06 at 9:48 pm
  • This was written with me in mind.As I seem to stay “trapped” in my comfort zones,the danger is that one can never really grow if you get stuck in comfort zones and never try to check new horizons.

    2018-03-22 at 4:33 pm
  • Hey Buddy,

    Awesome recount. I dig circling the globe because it pulls me out of my comfort zone. I recall spending a month in Colombo, being ferried around by 3 Wheel Lankan drivers, wondering if I’d die LOL. Some drove like animals and were angry too; bad combo. I enjoyed the place though. Eye-opening and quite different from any spot I visited.


    2018-04-03 at 2:10 am

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